Late summer is such a beautiful time of the year, isn't it? So, what excuse do I have for daydreaming about spring? It's not that I mind the fall... In fact autumn has always been my favorite season. I love watching the foliage change color and taking long walks in the crisp, cool air. It's just that I am distracted by a perennial obsession. You see, when others start shopping for school supplies and fuzzy sweaters, I begin compulsively buying bulbs. It's true. I really can't help myself. I'm a slave to my habit. Pouring over the fall catalogues—filled with the latest and most exclusive selections from Holland—I gush, I sigh, and I swoon. I dream about tubers, corms, and rhizomes, all through the late summer days and nights.
I know, as far as addictions go, my bulb-buying probably seems like a pretty tame habit. But, you must understand, I'm not talking about a couple-dozen daffodils, or even a few choice tulips. Oh no… That would be acceptable. This behavior goes well beyond normal. I buy boxes and boxes and boxes of them, hoarding them like a hungry squirrel. Yes of course, some of my purchases are for garden clients—it's true. But mostly I buy them for myself. I order early bulbs, late bulbs, tall bulbs, short bulbs, fancy bulbs, plain bulbs, and pretty much everything in between. I go for the rare and the common, the delicately colored and the outright-garish. I buy hundreds and hundreds, planting them in the ground until my fingers are frozen and I can no longer hold a trowel. Yes, It's a compulsive behavior. I know it. And every year, I find that I'm getting worse… I'm more and more greedy for bulbs!
Of course, I am far from alone in my annual bulb-induced madness. Many gardeners suffer from this seasonal disorder. In fact, back in the seventeenth century, the Dutch even had a name for the affliction. They called it 'tulipomania', and this particular craze actually gave rise to an economic bubble, and subsequently, a collapse. Sound familiar? We humans are such curious creatures, aren't we?
Ah bulbs. If you look forward to burying your little, dry, brown treasures as much as I do, then you really must treat yourself to a copy of Ana Pavord's gloriously beautiful book, Bulb. From the silken, heavy-weight pages, filled with exquisite photographs, to the gilded lettering on its deep green, cloth-covered spine, this book is every bulb collector's fantasy. Although it is loaded with history and rich cultural details, this book is far from the usual crusty botanical encyclopedia. Bulb is written from the perspective of a true horticultural connoisseur. From simple, early aconites (Eranthis) and snowdrops (Galanthus), to flamboyantly colored parrot tulips, exotic, fragrant lilies, and beyond, you will find your obsession with Monocotyledonus Geophytes (tubers, corms, rhizomes. and bulbs) well cultivated here.
The bulb catalogs in my house are all filled with sticky post-its, and circled stock numbers. How about you? Any bulb buying planned this year?
Michaela grew up gardening, studying plants, and picking organic produce on the family farm. When she isn't spreading compost or pruning shrubs, she can usually be found writing articles or giving seminars on all things gardening. Michaela has worked as a gardening professional for 15 years and is author of the popular blog, The Gardener’s Eden.